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Walmart vet joins Lowe’s executive team

BY Marianne Wilson

Lowe’s Companies has appointed a seasoned retail executive to head up its supply chain.

The home improvement giant named Donald E. Frieson as executive VP, supply chain, effective Aug. 8. He will be responsible for the company’s distribution centers, logistics, global sourcing, transportation and delivery services. Frieson will report to Marvin R. Ellison, president and CEO.

Frieson most recently served as COO at Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart, where he was responsible for all club operations. He Frieson joined Sam’s Club in 2012 as senior VP, replenishment and inventory planning.

From 2010 to 2012, Frieson served Walmart International as chief integration officer for Massmart Holdings, a chain of more than 300 stores operating in 13 sub-Saharan African nations, where he was responsible for supply chain, merchandise sourcing and private brand integration. Prior to Massmart, Frieson was senior VP, supply chain at Walmart where he led more than 30 distribution centers that supplied merchandise to nearly 1,600 Walmart stores, supercenters and neighborhood markets in the eastern U.S.

“Don has a proven track-record of driving seamless logistics and operations excellence within large, complex retail organizations with big bulky products, and we are delighted to welcome him to the team,” said Lowe’s president and CEO Ralph Ellison. “Don will bring deep experience and technical expertise to lead the transformation of our supply chain to meet the needs of our omnichannel customers.”

Prior to joining Walmart, Frieson spent 12 years working for Schneider National Carriers, where he developed operations and logistics expertise in the trucking industry.

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Former Tesco exec to head up technology for Nordstrom

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Nordstrom has ended its “extensive search” for a new technology chief.

The department store retailer has named Edmond Mesrobian as chief technology officer. He succeeds Kumar Srinivasan, who left his position as Nordstrom’s CTO in January 2017. Srinivasan left Nordstrom after less than a year on the job to return home to India.

Mesrobian joins Nordstrom from U.K.-based supermarket giant Tesco, where he focused on strengthening the company’s technological capabilities and creating innovative solutions for its customers.
Prior to Tesco, he spearheaded operational and technical innovations as CTO of global travel company Expedia, including online travel brands, Expedia.com, Hotels.com, and Hotwire.com.

Mesrobian will support all aspects of technology across Nordstrom. He will focus on advancing the retailer’s suite of technology capabilities to meet the evolving needs of customers.

“After an extensive search, we are excited to have Edmond join our executive team as chief technology officer,” said Blake Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom. “Edmond is a seasoned technology expert, and has contributed to the growth of retail, high-tech and internet-based businesses for nearly three decades. As our industry and customers evolve, Edmond will help us continue to transform our business so we can deliver the best experience to our customers, however they choose to shop with us.”

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GNC rewards CEO with new title

BY David Salazar

Ken Martindale has been busy since he left the helm of Rite Aid to become CEO of GNC last September — and he just got an additional job at the specialty health-and-wellness retailer.

Martindale has been named chairman of GNC chairman, effective immediately. He succeeds Bob Moran, who will become GNC’s lead independent director.

Martindale’s appointment to the board comes as part of an ongoing transaction with Chinese Pharmaceutical company Harbin Pharmaceutical Group (Hayao), through which the two companies will form a joint venture to bring GNC-branded products to Chinese consumers.

As part of the joint venture, the company is receiving a roughly $300 million investment from the Hayao — a 40% stake that will make it GNC’s single largest shareholder once the transaction closes. In addition to Martindale joining the board as chairman, the transaction will involve the board expanding to include five members from GNC and five members from Hayao.

“Ken has demonstrated exceptional leadership and strategic insight in his role as CEO, and the board looks forward to continuing to benefit from his insight and expertise as he assumes the role of chairman,” Moran said. “We are confident that under Ken’s continued leadership we will be even better positioned to effectively implement our strategic plans and drive shareholder value.”

Since Martindale took the helm, the company also has focused on streamlining its portfolio, including the closure of 200 American and Canadian stores this year, an effort the retailer announced in April alongside its earnings and a plan to curb its store openings in 2018.

“I am honored to take on this new role as we accelerate our efforts to reposition GNC to drive growth, improve our financial strength and performance and enhance shareholder value,” Martindale said. “We continue to expect the transaction with Harbin Pharmaceutical Group to close later this year, and I look forward to working with the rest of the board as we execute our strategy to build on the strength of the GNC brand, leverage our capabilities in product and service innovation, expand our international presence and deliver a compelling, integrated customer experience.”

The companies have said they expect the Hayao deal to close in the latter half of 2018.

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